Where Have All the Glowers Gone? Anger for Fundraisers 101
One time, way back in 1987, Harper's Magazine commissioned seven of the top New York ad agencies and assigned each one to create a full-page ad for one of the seven deadly sins.
It was such a hilarious yet disturbing undertaking that once you see the ads, I bet you'll remember them for the rest of your life (so click on this link at your own risk).
One I still think of often was the ad Saatchi & Saatchi did for the sin of wrath. It consisted of two black and white photos, one over the other. The top picture was a shot of Adolf Hitler in full rant mode. His fists were clenched and his face contorted in barely controlled rage. The bottom one showed a young man with almost exactly the same expression, except that this guy wasn't an evil dictator. He was an anti-Vietnam War protestor screaming passionately for an end to an unjust war.
The ad's copy consisted of a caption that started under the Hitler picture and concluded under the anti-war protester. Wrath, it said, was "The only emotion powerful enough to start a war … and stop one."
That ad came to mind the other day when I got what must have been my third or fourth email whose subject line said something like, "Willis, can you believe what so-and-so said?!?" or, "Willis, this is inexcusable!" or some similar headline designed to reinforce my sense of righteous indignation.
I read them all because it's my job. And the ones that I thought said something important, I shared with a few friends on Facebook or posted links to on Twitter, because that's what we do these days when we feel strongly about something.
I really did care about the topics in the emails — just not enough to actually do anything more than click my mouse a couple of times.
Willis Turner believes great writing has the power to change minds, save lives, and make people want to dance and sing. Willis is the creative director at Huntsinger & Jeffer. He worked as a lead writer and creative director in the traditional advertising world for more than 15 years before making the switch to fundraising 20 years ago. In his work with nonprofit organizations and associations, he has written thousands of appeals, renewals and acquisition communications for every medium. He creates direct-response campaigns, and collateral communications materials that get attention, tell powerful stories and persuade people to take action or make a donation.